Friday, May 7, 2010

Writing and editing manuals

I recently received a reference question about the correct way to divide up words in French, in cases where they need to be split between two lines. I used two resources to find the answer - the Chicago Manual of Style and Le bon usage by Grevisse.
Stanford University Libraries has a subscription to the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, online. It is very easy to navigate using the table of contents, search bar, or index. Using a computer connected to the Stanford network, the URL is:

Section 10 is for foreign languages, and provides help on issues such as dividing words, capitalization and italicization of foreign titles, punctuation, word division, special characters, and formatting quotations in foreign languages. There are sections for both French and Italian, as well as most of the other European languages, including Latin and Classical Greek.
The 14th edition of Le bon usage is available in the IC, and answers the same questions for French as the Chicago Manual does for English.

Grevisse, Maurice, and André Goosse. Le Bon Usage : Grammaire Française : Grevisse Langue Française. 14e éd. Bruxelles: De Boeck , 2008.
IC PC2111 .G838 B69 2008

My summary on word division is taken from the Grevisse, pp. 36-37. "Syllabation graphique".

Do not separate 2 vowels
When there is a single consonant between 2 vowels, cut is before the consonant (cha-peau)
When there are 2 consonants between the vowels, cut is between the 2 consonants. Except in the case where the consonants represent a single sound (ra-chat, pa-thos, mi-gnon) or if the second consonant is an R or an L,and the first is not (sa-ble, pro-pre)
When there are 3 consonants, cut after the second consonant: obs-tine, comp-ter . Except in the case where the consonants represent a single sound (mar-cher) or if the last consonant is an R or L (ar-bre)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


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Sarah Sussman, curator of French and Italian Collections